Each year we organise a wild food walk at the farm. We wander around the hedgerow perimeter of The Oak Tree, gathering wild food and then prepare lunch from our haul!
This is the traditional “hungry gap” (April/May) in the vegetable garden, but, as if by magic, the hedgerows are full of fantastic edible greens at this time of year.
There are lots of wild leaves perfect for a spring salads – a favourite is hedge garlic.
Nettle soup proves popular at lunchtime, made very simply with onions, sea salt, pepper, oats and potatoes, flavoured with a bay leaf or two and liquidised well. This was a traditional spring dish said to “clean the blood” – certainly nettles are very rich in minerals. If you pick just the tips, say the first two or three pair of leaves, without gloves, it is easy to gather a reasonable quantity quite quickly and it is far less painful than you imagine. Go on, try grapsing the nettle!
Elderflower fritters are a universal success. Dipped in a batter, deep fried and then sprinkled with a little icing sugar, they disappeared almost as soon as they emerged from the pan!
Ok, so the wild food salad included a few less seasonal ingredients, but it did contain many different wild greens: dandelion leaves, hawthorn leaves, hedge garlic, dead nettle tips and the tips of cleavers.
Some years we’ve prepared food at nearby Rushmere Baptist Church – as below
Other years, we’ve prepared the food at the farm with basic equipment out in the field and with the help of the fantastic smoothie bike kindly loaned to us bythe fabulous Anna at Ipswich Cycle Cafe.
Some years we have used Alexanders with only a limited success, they can be somewhat stringy and some have been a little too old and starting to go to seed.
Jon and Gemma found some use for them – the stalks are hollow so they improvised a percussion set with them. You can hear this on the audio player below -pretty good I think you’d agree. Jon is a professional percussionist – a man who can make music from tough Alexander stalks really is blessed with an extraordinary talent!